Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide: Unleashing the Benefits of a Powerful Duo Together

The benefits of niacinamide and azelaic acid for your skin.

As skincare enthusiasts, we’re always on the lookout for effective ingredients that can help us achieve radiant, healthy skin. In recent years, azelaic acid and niacinamide have gained popularity in the beauty community, and for good reason. Both of these powerful ingredients offer an array of benefits that make them essential additions to any skincare routine.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of incorporating both azelaic acid and niacinamide into your regimen and how they can work together to enhance your skin’s appearance and overall health. Let’s embark on this journey toward better skin, one ingredient at a time.

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Table of Contents

Understanding Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide: The Differences

What is azelaic acid?

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring compound that can be found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It is also produced by the yeast that lives on our skin.

In the world of skincare, azelaic acid is often derived from lab-based processes to ensure purity and effectiveness. This ingredient is a dicarboxylic acid, which means it has unique properties that make it an effective skincare component.

Benefits and uses in skincare

Azelaic acid is known for its diverse range of benefits, making it a versatile addition to your skincare routine. Some of its key benefits include:

  • Reducing hyperpigmentation: Azelaic acid inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production, which helps to fade dark spots and even out skin tone.
  • Treating acne: Azelaic acid effectively treats acne through its antibacterial properties that target acne-causing bacteria and its keratolytic action, which exfoliates dead skin cells to prevent pimples and blackheads. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness and skin sensitivity associated with acne.
  • Soothing Inflammation and Treating Rosacea: Azelaic acid is notable for its anti-inflammatory properties, effectively reducing redness and irritation in conditions like rosacea and sensitive skin. It’s particularly valuable in rosacea treatment, as it’s FDA-approved for reducing symptoms, including swelling and lesions. Azelaic acid also targets Demodex mites, often a trigger for rosacea, making it an integral part of rosacea management.
  • Mild Exfoliation: Azelaic acid can gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and preventing pore clogging.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Azelaic acid also has antioxidant benefits, which can help protect the skin from environmental damage.
benefits of azelaic acid

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3 that is commonly found in many foods, including meat, fish, and whole grains. In skincare, niacinamide is often synthesized in a lab to ensure stability and potency. This water-soluble vitamin offers a range of skin-enhancing properties that make it an increasingly popular ingredient in beauty products.

Benefits and uses in skincare

Niacinamide boasts numerous benefits for the skin, making it a valuable addition to your skincare routine. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Strengthening the skin barrier: Niacinamide helps to boost the production of ceramides, which are essential for maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier. This can lead to better hydration and overall skin health.
  • Reducing inflammation: Its anti-inflammatory properties can help to calm redness and irritation, making it suitable for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
  • Minimizing the appearance of pores: By regulating sebum production, niacinamide can help to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and promote a smoother complexion.
  • Improving skin texture: Niacinamide has been shown to improve the elasticity of the skin, resulting in a more youthful and supple appearance.
  • Reducing Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Niacinamide can help reduce the visible signs of aging by smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Improving Uneven Skin Tone: It may help to lighten dark spots and improve uneven skin tone, contributing to a more even complexion.
  • Enhancing Skin’s Repair Process: Niacinamide can support the skin’s natural repair process, helping to heal damage and maintain skin health.
Niacinamide benefits

In summary, while both azelaic acid and niacinamide offer a range of skincare benefits, they differ in origin, properties, and primary functions. Azelaic acid excels in reducing hyperpigmentation and treating acne, while niacinamide is known for strengthening the skin barrier and minimizing the appearance of pores.

Combining these two ingredients can provide a more comprehensive approach to addressing various skin concerns and promoting overall skin health.

Can you use azelaic acid and niacinamide together?

Yes, you can use azelaic acid and niacinamide together. These ingredients are safe and compatible, as they have distinct mechanisms of action that complement each other’s benefits. Combining them can enhance their individual effects without causing irritation or reducing their effectiveness.

The synergy between the two ingredients

The combination of azelaic acid and niacinamide creates a synergistic effect, allowing them to work together to provide enhanced results. By addressing various skin concerns simultaneously, these two ingredients can help you achieve a more balanced and radiant complexion.

Benefits of using azelaic acid and niacinamide together

The combined power of azelaic acid and niacinamide offers numerous benefits for your skin. Let’s explore the advantages of using this duo together in your skincare routine.

  1. Enhanced skin brightening

Both azelaic acid and niacinamide have skin-brightening properties, and using them together can amplify their effects. Azelaic acid helps fade hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, while niacinamide reduces dark spots and discoloration by hindering melanosome transfer, resulting in a more even skin tone and a brighter, more radiant complexion.

  1. Reduced inflammation and redness

Inflammation and redness can be common skincare concerns, particularly for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin. The combination of azelaic acid’s anti-inflammatory properties and niacinamide’s soothing effects can help to calm irritated skin and reduce the appearance of redness.

  1. Improved skin barrier function

A strong skin barrier is crucial for maintaining skin health, and both azelaic acid and niacinamide contribute to this goal. Niacinamide boosts ceramide production, while azelaic acid, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supports healthy skin cell function by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Together, they can help to strengthen and protect the skin barrier.

  1. Accelerated skin cell turnover

Combining azelaic acid and niacinamide can also promote faster skin cell turnover, which is essential for maintaining a youthful and healthy complexion. Azelaic acid works as a gentle exfoliant, while niacinamide can improve skin elasticity. The result is smoother, more even-toned skin that looks and feels refreshed.

In conclusion, incorporating both azelaic acid and niacinamide into your skincare routine can provide a wide range of benefits, thanks to their compatibility and synergy. By addressing various skin concerns, this powerful duo can help you achieve a more balanced, radiant, and healthy complexion.

How to Use Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide Together

Now that we understand the benefits of combining azelaic acid and niacinamide, let’s discuss the best practices for incorporating these ingredients into your skincare routine, ensuring optimal results for your skin.

Mixing vs. layering

  1. When to mix them together

In some cases, you may find products that already contain both azelaic acid and niacinamide, allowing you to enjoy their combined benefits in a single step. Alternatively, you can mix a few drops of azelaic acid and niacinamide serums or boosters together in the palm of your hand before applying them to your face. This method is suitable when both products have similar textures and formulations.

  1. When to layer them separately

If the azelaic acid and niacinamide products you’re using have different textures or formulations, it’s best to layer them separately. Apply the thinnest, most watery product first, followed by thicker, more viscous products. This approach allows each ingredient to penetrate the skin effectively and avoids potential pilling.

Incorporating them into your skincare routine

  1. When to use them during the day

Both azelaic acid and niacinamide can be used during the day or at night. However, if you’re using photosensitizing ingredients like AHAs or retinol, which can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, it’s a good idea to apply azelaic acid and niacinamide during your morning routine.

Their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties can help counteract potential irritation caused by photosensitizing ingredients, while niacinamide strengthens the skin’s barrier function for added protection.

By incorporating azelaic acid and niacinamide into your morning routine, you can balance and safeguard your skin from environmental stressors. Don’t forget to follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen for optimal protection.

  1. Order of application

When layering azelaic acid and niacinamide, follow this general order of application: cleanse, tone, apply water-based serums (like niacinamide), apply gel or cream-based treatments (like azelaic acid), moisturize, and finish with sunscreen during the day.

Tips for optimal results

To get the most out of your azelaic acid and niacinamide combination, consider the following tips:

  • Patch test new products to ensure your skin can tolerate the ingredients.
  • Be patient and consistent, as it may take several weeks to see visible improvements.
  • Adjust your routine based on your skin’s needs, as individual experiences may vary.

By following these guidelines, you can confidently incorporate azelaic acid and niacinamide into your skincare routine and enjoy the benefits of this powerful duo.

Top Products with Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide

As you consider incorporating azelaic acid and niacinamide into your skincare routine, it’s essential to choose products that best suit your needs. In this section, we’ll explore some top product recommendations and factors to consider when making your selection.

  1. Serums and creams

While there are limited options for serums and creams containing both azelaic acid and niacinamide, you can still layer separate products for each ingredient. Look for azelaic acid creams or suspensions and niacinamide serums with textures that suit your skin type, such as lightweight serums for oily skin or richer creams for dry skin.

  1. Cleansers and toners

In addition to serums and creams, you can also find cleansers and toners featuring either azelaic acid or niacinamide. These products can provide a gentle introduction to the ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin or are new to these ingredients.

Azelaic acid products:

  • The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% – a budget-friendly option that contains a high concentration of azelaic acid. 
  • Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster – a potent formula that combines azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and plant-derived brightening agents, designed to effectively reduce redness, even out skin tone, unclog pores, and improve the overall appearance of various skin concerns, suitable for all skin types.
  • FaceTheory Lumizela Azelaic Acid Serum A15 – a fast-absorbing, gentle formula featuring azelaic acid (15%), oatmeal, aloe vera, and green tea, designed to combat acne, breakouts, scars, and hyperpigmentation while soothing and minimizing redness for all skin types, made cruelty-free in the UK.
  • Q + A Azelaic Acid Facial Serum – a 97.3% natural formula designed to revitalize your complexion, minimize pores, balance oil levels, and tackle congestion and blemishes with key ingredients such as 8% azelaic acid, zinc PCA, and super grains extract, ideal for oily, combination, and all skin types.

Niacinamide acid products:

  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – a water-based serum formulated to boost skin brightness, improve smoothness, and reinforce the skin barrier, featuring a high concentration of Niacinamide and Zinc PCA for enhanced visible skin benefits, suitable for use alongside acne treatments if desired.
  • The Organic Pharmacy Niacinamide Ultra 5 Serum – is a scientifically formulated, clinically proven skincare product that combines 5% Niacinamide, Triple Molecular Hyaluronic Acid, Stabilised Vitamin C, Bakuchiol, and Organic Rose Water to smooth wrinkles, repair the skin barrier, brighten skin tone, reduce redness, and minimize pore visibility, making it an effective addition to any skincare routine for all skin types.
  • Q + A Niacinamide Daily Toner – a vegan, UK-made daily toner that utilizes niacinamide to even skin tone, minimize pores, and improve blemishes, all in eco-friendly packaging and cruelty-free formulation.
  • Balance Me Niacinamide Complexion Booster – a lightweight, versatile formula containing 7% Niacinamide, designed to blur imperfections, balance stressed skin, brighten and firm, reduce signs of stress, and tighten pores for a total complexion overhaul, suitable for all skin types, including hormonal and stressed skin.

Factors to consider when choosing products

  1. Skin type and concerns

When selecting separate products containing azelaic acid and niacinamide, it’s crucial to consider your skin type and specific concerns. For example, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for non-comedogenic and oil-free formulas. On the other hand, if you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for hydrating and soothing products.

  1. Ingredient concentrations

The concentration of azelaic acid and niacinamide in a product can impact its effectiveness. Generally, look for products with 10-20% azelaic acid and 2-10% niacinamide. However, if you have sensitive skin or are new to these ingredients, start with lower concentrations and gradually increase as your skin tolerates the ingredients.

  1. Price and brand reputation

Lastly, consider the price and reputation of the brand when choosing products. While it’s not always necessary to opt for high-end brands, it’s essential to choose products from reputable companies with good customer reviews and transparent ingredient lists.

By considering these factors, you can select the right azelaic acid and niacinamide products to layer in your skincare routine and enjoy the benefits of this powerful combination.


In conclusion, combining azelaic acid and niacinamide in your skincare routine offers numerous benefits, such as enhanced skin brightening, reduced inflammation, improved skin barrier function, and accelerated skin cell turnover. By carefully selecting and incorporating these ingredients into your regimen, you can unlock the full potential of this powerful duo. So, go ahead and experiment with azelaic acid and niacinamide to achieve a healthier, more radiant complexion.

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Petra Nakashian (previously Kravos) is a dedicated natural health and beauty blogger, driven by the loss of her parents to cancer, which led her to meticulously research beauty product ingredients. With over 10 years of experience, her in-depth knowledge has made her a trusted expert in the field. Founder of Be Healthy Now and Green Beauty Talk, Petra recently expanded her expertise with Beauty Insights Hub, exploring a wider range of beauty treatments. Committed to transparency and honesty, her work is a vital resource for navigating the complex world of beauty.